Interview Sepultura: Derrick Green
Geïnterviewde: Derrick Green (zanger)
Label: Nuclear Blast
Ter promotie van hun nieuw album Machine Messiah hoorden we Sepultura zanger Derrick Green uit. Lees ook onze review hier.
Let’s talk about the new album Machine Messiah, I was wondering where the name came from?
Well, it was an idea that originally came from our guitarist Andreas. It is really a representation of the time that we now live in. We really started to notice or have been noticing for a long time now that people are really relying so much on technology and living in the digital world. It’s almost as if they look to it for everything. We all do, so it feels that this type of returning to something like a religious idea of a new Messiah as a machine, we’re almost like a robot. It’s already happening and this is what people really look up to as a new Messiah. It’s not in the form of a human being but in the form of a machine. It’s kind of the times that we live in, this is the new Messiah.
Do you think you are also in this cycle, that you are also dependent on it?
Definitely, that was the most troubling thing about it. I think while writing this new album I really reflected on myself and my surroundings and finding myself really depending so much on technology. Having this understanding, I started to stay away from it as much as possible, as far as really setting time aside to really reconnect myself with other human beings around me, without using technology. Just talking and communicating. These are just certain things I noticed myself.
The album starts off with the title track, which sounds not typical Sepultura I would say since it’s a slower song. Some bands prefer to start with a bang, here it’s not the case. Was this a conscious choice?
I think so. It felt very natural for us to really start with something that is not very typical, something that we felt very happy about. I don’t know, in the positioning of certain songs it just seemed to fit very well there. But it also has a great surprise, it’s kind of a building song, a bit slow, clean but then it gets dirtier and heavier and we just thought the song was a pretty cool representation of the new album, it’s really going in the direction that we’ve never gone so we kind of wanted to give people that impression that it’s not the typical Sepultura album.
The second one, I Am The Enemy, sounds then again like old school thrashy Sepultura.
Totally. Even if people get thrown off track like oh my god what’s going on with this new song, there is this other song, just coming back to a straight forward, in your face type of song. I think the album has a big mix of different Sepultura elements . New stuff and old stuff combined. This was kind of the idea that we had before going into writing mode.
Who is the I in the title or the enemy of what?
Well it’s pretty much looking at ourselves . A lot of times people love to point blame at other people for their problems that are happening and then nothing ever gets resolved. You can’t really look to yourself, you are your own worst enemy a lot of times. This is another song of looking inside yourself and being able to write about the realization of I’m doing damage to myself and it needs to change. It’s primarily about that, looking at yourself for not blaming anybody else.
Can you tell me what the clacking sound is at the 3rd track Phantom Self? Is it something typical Brazilian?
It’s like a wood block that Eloy is using, it’s typical like Brazilian Maracas, a style of playing from the North-East of Brazil. It was something pretty Brazilian in a sense and again it’s like another twist in the song, this really weird rhythm going like it is something else. But we wanted to try different instruments and different sounds.
Sepultura has always incorporated Brazilian instruments or sounds inside the songs, it’s more on this album?
I think there is a mix of certain Brazilian elements that are there just naturally. We’ve been residing here and the band is originally from here, so I think it’s natural. Especially rhythm section is something very unique about Brazilian culture. It’s very powerful and stands out. Percussion and the drums that are here, the elements that are really common in the kind of music that comes from there. We didn’t want to overdo it, but we wanted to have a representation of what really goes on here, certain sounds.
Iceberg Dances is also an unusual song. It’s instrumental, who made this and how was this chosen to be put on the record?
We haven’t had an instrumental song for a very long time. With me at least, I can’t remember an album where we did have that, a full instrumental song. Andreas had the idea of doing that and I was pushing to him certain stuff to listen to, there’s a band called The Fucking Champs actually and they are a completely instrumental band and there is no bass, only two guitars and drums. It’s a really unique band and they have like I want to say masterpieces of just jamming, it seems like a huge jam session. There is something very loose about that and you should feel comfortable of doing that, for us at least. We thought that would be a good element on the album, something very unique as well. And also Iceberg Dances, the idea of an iceberg dancing around, moving so it’s never in one place, it’s constantly moving, that’s how the song is primarily moving around, the rhythms, the sounds in it.
There are also local sounds and influences in here, right? Who is playing that?
There are, absolutely. Everything on that song is all done by Andreas playing acoustic, Eloy doing all the percussion, it was us on that song.
How would you compare this album to previous Sepultura albums?
I think this one is a little more modern. The previous was a dirtier, darker album and I think with this one we really wanted to go a little bit opposite, even as far as the artwork, completely different. A different artist of course, from the Phillippines, we found a woman. It’s actually a painting and the painting itself was perfect, it was exactly what we wanted, we didn’t have to tell her what we wanted, just as it is. We had this incredible connection. The producer of course is a big difference, working with Jens in Sweden, it’s a different environment. Jens Borgen is very detailed in his work, he was able to go through each song and get a clear sound for that. This was something that we were looking for, a mix of dirty and clean. Our sound is very primitive and I really felt that it would be great to go to Sweden to work with the producer. I was really into a lot of bands from Sweden and I thought it would be a great mix for Sepultura. It definitely came out that way I feel, it did mix.
Now that you mention the recording process, so it really did differ from other albums this time?
Absolutely. I think we were also very confident into making this album and everybody felt very secure in their position for what needed to be done. It was Eloy’s second album so he definitely felt more comfortable playing drums and participating a lot more in the writing process and in the studio. I think we were able to in a lot of ways to surprise ourselves and bring out things and elements that we didn’t realize were going to come out on the album. I think that combination of working with Jens and being in Sweden in the studio, very focused, everybody living together in the same space, these elements of surprise came out.
How long did the recording process take there in Sweden?
It was about five to six weeks in total. Most of it was written before we even got there so it was easy to go in and do the songs that we thought were the strongest and change certain things here and there.
There are ten songs on the album, did you record some more that did not appear on the album?
Yeah we did. I think there are a few songs that we dropped. Actually listening to them with Jens, we went through them to pick the best. We wrote a little bit more to do that, so that we could pick out the ones that we felt were the strongest. But there is going to be bonus stuff for Japan and also for the rest of the world.
Sepultura sometimes puts their opinion about the current world inside their songs or describe how the world is like. It’s also the case now with the new album, but is it in there explicitly or more in between the lines?
I think it’s pretty in the face. It’s hard not to write about what’s going on in the world, especially when it’s having effect on your own life. We felt this, you know, from the politics that are going on here in Brazil. A lot of similarities going on in the US as well and around the world. It’s hard to really not write about it, there’s a whole new enlightment that’s coming about with the public here, getting on the street and protesting, not being satisfied with a lot of things, the way things are going with the politicians that are in power now, wanting to change. This is something that we couldn’t resist to write about, it’s something that we all feel so much.
You mention it, America’s election result. What do you think about news like that?
I’m not that shocked as a lot of other people were because I know how it is, growing up in the USA, especially in Ohio. I’ve been able to travel a lot through the US for many years as a kid and with the band and everything. I really feel that I have a strong understanding of the US and I realize a lot of people in the middle of the US and all over there have a certain opinion, so it wasn’t really that shocking for me, I still was like wow, but if you’re from a big city and you’re isolated from the rest of the US then it’s shocking, like oh my god I can’t believe people would vote for him. But it was disappointing just for the fact that the process itself is really old and needs to be changed. The fact that the whole political system in the US is completely run by corporations, or at least it’s been infiltrated so long ago that it’s just a joke. They use patriotism, this whole idea of the American flag and everything, for manipulating the mentality of the people. They believe this shit that’s being said and it’s just frustrating, the fact that the public is so naïve to believe it. Things they feed people to keep them kind of in order, while there’s like huge corporations creating laws and politics, really manipulating the politics, that’s a lot in the US. They got money and it has nothing do to with patriotism, their goal is just greed, greed and money. And that’s just scary thing. It’s a false security that they give while they are doing a lot of government stuff to create their own policies. It’s scary, I think those companies are all over the world, they are international companies as well so they can do this to other countries and have been doing this, manipulating the politics and the power. So it’s a scary thing. A lot of people are not happy obviously and this shakeup is really important to have, so that people are really aware of what is going on. It’s interesting times and exciting at the same time to see where the future or at least the US will go to, because it has a big effect on other countries as well. I don’t know, we’ll see.
Now with all this information coming that it’s completely hacked, infiltrated by Russia… It sounds like a movie or stuff like that. It’s even scary if you have a president-elect who doesn’t believe in a service like the CIA. That type of job is to gather intelligence (laughs), to sneak in and he’s like I don’t believe you. It is a guy who also doesn’t believe in global warming, he thinks it’s a conspiracy, doesn’t believe in scientists, he doesn’t believe in facts, it’s just like really elementary and that makes it really, really scary. But I believe they totally infiltrated the system, I believe they did this in Europe as well and the CIA are saying it, that happened, we were too late to say anything about it. And it’s the same thing with weapons of mass destruction. Cheney and Bush were like yes, it exists, while CIA was telling no, they don’t have anything. They weren’t listening to them, they pushed their own agenda, this is a scary thing.
You’re going on tour in Europe together with Kreator, Soilwork and Aborted, do you know these bands?
Kreator, yeah. Old school thrash. I was never a huge fan but I started to get a little more into them once I got in Sepultura, listening to their style. They are history because they have so many albums. Soilwork I don’t know at all and Aborted not as well. But I know it’ll work out like a pretty big family. I know the drummer who has been playing in Megadeth, I think it’ll be a really cool tour. The fact that each band has their own fanbase, I think it’ll be a good connection. I’m happy with the line-up, I believe we built a very strong line-up to tour Europe. Then we go on to the US to do a tour with Testament and Prong and there I think we have a very strong line-up as well. It’s a good feeling, I think all these bands have new albums that will come out around the time that we’ll bring ours out, so it’s great for a lot of bands to do this tour. I definitely plan to download some stuff of each band because I like to do that before the tour starts. Sometimes I become a fan that way. I’m excited.
We vroegen Derrick nog enkele leuke weetjes:
What is your favorite metal album?
I guess it’s always switching around but it must definitely be Ride The Lightning of Metallica. It’s so classic from the beginning to the end of the album. Every song fits in place, so to me that’s a classic. It’s so good (laughs).
What's the first album you bought?
I think I bought two albums at the same day, it was Rush – Moving Pictures and the other album was Descendants, might have been while I was in college. I’m a big hardcore fan, going to shows and stuff, so this was like a big deal, being able to buy such albums. Also Rush, I’m a big fan and Moving Pictures had just come out and it just blew my mind, from beginning to end. I was like wow, this is incredible.
Do you have any guilty pleasure?
Definitely, I have a guilty pleasure. I love Nick Cave, I’m a huge Nick Cave fan and I guess a lot of people don’t expect me to listen to that, but I always have been since he was in The Birthday Party. I’ve been a huge fan, he’s a great songwriter and also books, I’m a big fan of a book that he wrote, it’s one of my favorite books.
Do you still buy physical albums, CD or LP?
No I don’t unfortunately. I really would love to get a sound system like a record player again. It’s been so many years. It’s definitely something on my list to do because you still can’t beat that sound, a record has a beautiful warm sound, it’s just incredible, I really miss that. Most of the time now it’s iTunes, it’s quick and easy, it’s actually this technology that’s great for instance if people tell me to check out a band and I can do it and support the band instantly, which is pretty amazing.
Can you name something you recently bought or listened to?
Yeah, I stumbled across this band called Code Orange. I think they have been around for a while, I’ve never really heard of them but they are fantastic so I bought that. I bought the new Opeth album, it’s pretty cool, and what else… It’s all I can think of from the top of my head.